Introduction

The Campaign for the Protection of Problem Gamblers is concerned with the plight of ‘problem gamblers’, in particular those who have chosen to self-exclude under the section 91N of the Casino Control Act 1982 (Qld). Although many of the cases in this area treat them as ‘pure economic loss’ cases,[1] there has been an attempt to plead negligence on the basis of psychiatric injury.[2] It is this angle that our Campaign is primarily focussed on, especially in considering our recommended reforms to this area.

What makes this area of negligence really important is the fact that the State Government makes substantial revenue from the gambling industry, and claims that the regulation of this industry is ‘to ensure that, on balance, the State and the community as a whole benefits from casino gambling… by subjecting casino gambling to a system of regulation and control designed to protect players and the community through … minimising the potential for harm from casino gambling.’[3] Thus, we submit that the State has a responsibility to continue to review the social impact of their choice to foster the gambling industry. As a part of the Presentation for our Campaign, we will be considering the social impacts of the State’s policy choices.

However, our primary concern at this stage is to directly review the liability (or lack thereof, in reality) that casino operators have (or should have) towards self-excluded ‘problem gamblers’ who have been harmed by their lack of exercising proper care over this small particularly vulnerable segment of the community. We will also, as an aside, consider the interpretation of the courts with regard to the statutory duties of casinos towards the State (including financial penalties), and whether these duties have been held to give rise to a private right to claim for negligence under the common law.

Structure of the presentation

[1] For example, Reynolds v Katoomba RSL All Services Club Ltd (2001) 53 NSWLR 43.

[2] See Preston v Star City Pty Ltd [1999] NSWSC 1273 and Foroughi v Star City Pty Ltd (2007) 163 FCR 131.

[3] Casino Control Act 1982 (Qld) s 3.